Social media is ubiquitous. So many people chronicle their lives in so many places with so many connections that it can complicate your relationship. You can track the activities—good and bad—of people who are close to you. You can stalk your ex online. You can snoop into your partner’s Facebook account. You can make contact with that sexy person on Snapchat. Social media can affect your relationship, and often not in a good way.

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Here are some good rules of thumb to navigate a relationship in the social media age:

Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in person.People break this rule all the time because it’s so easy to be anonymous online. It makes you feel like you are somehow not being observed when, in fact, the absolute opposite is true. Your every comment is being noted, and by some people you don’t even know, let alone those you do know. If you flirt by commenting on an Instagram photo (“Looking sexy!” for example) remember that the world will see what you say. If you wouldn’t say it to her face, don’t say it online.

Don’t make your phone more important than your partner.Remember the old days (think of black and white movies) when people reached for cigarettes after sex? Well now, people reach for cell phones to check their messages. Try to restrain yourselves. Instead, relax. Enjoy the afterglow. Take a few minutes offline to snuggle and bask in the intimacy you share. When you and your partner are together and you spend that time checking your messages and texting your friends, you are sending a powerful message. And that message is that other relationships you maintain by phone are more important than your relationship with your partner that you could be maintaining in person.

Don’t share anything about your partner without his permission.In any relationship, there is always one person who is more private than the other. While you think it’s adorable to post a photo of home movie night in your pajamas, your partner may find that an egregious infringement of his privacy. Talk to your partner about what he does and does not feel comfortable about sharing. This is especially important about major events in your life, like when you get pregnant or when a parent gets seriously ill. Also be careful not to overshare every detail in your relationship, especially if your partner is more private than you. The default here always goes to the private partner. When in doubt, don’t post.

Don’t check-up on your partner online. You’re just asking for trouble, often when it isn’t warranted. But when you snoop around, you’re bound to find something you can make into a problem. Just don’t do it. You are not entitled to pry into someone else’s online activity, even your partner’s. You may assume that you are committed to each other, and therefore there are no secrets. But, in fact, you are never entitled to violate anyone’s privacy. If you feel you need to do that then you need to explore why you don’t trust your partner enough not to snoop.

Don’t forget why you got together in the first place.You love and trust your partner. If your suspicions are aroused by something you find online, don’t let it fester. Talk about it. Remember, tone is very difficult to interpret online, let alone in person. The written word is sometimes more difficult to interpret without an explanation. And you owe it to your partner NOT to assume he’s done something wrong. Instead, ask him (without attitude) about what you saw online. Ask him straight forwardly before you make assumptions and accusations. If you see something online that worries you, talk about it. Calmly and rationally. And consider taking a vacation from social media every once and awhile. For both your sakes.

 

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact